Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Decade of Leah

Leah at Huntington Beach in June

Leah with a Danish Santa in Copenhagen

My last child has reached the double-digits. This feels like a milestone to me and represents a new phase in my life and hers.

She was born at a crossroads in our family's life. We were getting ready to move to Copenhagen, Denmark for a semester when she arrived. She was born on July 30, 2001, and we boarded the plane on September 3. She was still a newborn with blotchy skin who needed to be nursed every two hours.

I remember being crammed on the plane in the very back with my back aching and my legs cramping for 10 hours. I was excited to go to a country where my ancestors had come from and where my grandfather had served as a mission president during WW II.

But I was terrified of how we'd get along with four kids in a foreign country, one who was a newborn.

Leah was a beautiful baby and turned out to be much easier than a three year old or a seven year old or even a 10 year old because she could be transported easily in a pram and obviously didn't need to walk for long distances. She didn't require home schooling or entertaining.

We were a spectacle--a family of four kids--hopping on buses and trains and taxis. When 9-11 happened and we went to the American Embassy in Copenhagen to pay our respects, I wondered what kind of world Leah would grow up in. Would there be more terrorist attacks and would her life be altered because of it? Though there was nothing I could do to prevent it, I didn't like the idea that all her life she would know she'd was born six weeks before 9-11.

She was a bright spot in a world that seemed condemned to darkness. Those thoughts came to me repeatedly as I ate Danish chocolate at 3 am while trying to get her back to sleep.

Now she is an inquisitive 10-year old who loves people and worries about her family and friends. She loves to do art projects and paint and swim and play with friends. She is a joy to me and a good student and a beautiful girl.

Happy 10th birthday Leah! I love you!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mother Gothel Meets Huck Finn

what I want this summer!
Artwork by Mary Lee
I have a skewed misconception that summer brings with it much sought after time to nurture flowers, complete long-put-off tasks and focus on all the slackers in the house (mostly me). The dreams of endlessly reading, going to the pool, watching stars, taking idyllic picnics and bike rides have somewhat been realized over the past month, but not as much as I’d hoped.

You’d think I’d know that by now. Reality always comes crashing down about July.

Every Mom I know goes into summer armed with new goals for the kids. By the second week of fighting them I have decided what I want them to do isn’t nearly as important as not hearing them complain. The chore charts and reading charts and pick up the poop charts are written on the white board but ignored. Heaven help the person who tries to walk into the back yard to mow the lawn.

I think all kids grow up thinking that they have more chores than their siblings and that their moms do this on purpose to torment them. NOT FAIR are the two most spoken words in our house.

And I cannot believe that my kids think they need me to make them lunch every day!

Yesterday I turned into “Mother Gothel” from Tangled—the evil Mom who grabs Rapunzel around the arm and hisses, “Don’t ever ask to do that again!” I was violent and I hissed, just like her. Yup. That’s me. Mother Gothel. Also this week my daughter turned into Rapunzel and said, “Mother! Or should I even call you that!” They don’t like me much this summer.

This is what my kids have been doing this summer to “enrich” their minds.

My 13-year old went to an all you can eat pizza place and ate 13 pieces of pizza. His father and I are so proud. Hall of fame for this boy. We’re just grateful he didn’t throw up like the other kids did. He can’t remember to shower and then argues about if he smells or not. He thinks he can spend all day at Seven Peaks without any food or any money to buy a $7 plate of nachos.

My 17-year old daughter tried to fry and egg on the cement. Apparently it wasn’t hot enough. Thus the blob of yolk in the driveway. “We cleaned it up—promise,” she insisted. She has also spent all her income on concerts and Summer Sno (she’s almost bought enough to get a free one—her father and I are so proud) When it’s time to pay for some toiletries or movies she is flat broke.

My 10-year old is literally devastated if she can’t find a friend to play with. Keeping her happy and entertained is often expensive and wearisome and requires me to actually play or cook or do crafts.

I am reading Huckleberry Finn and loving Huck’s descriptions of floating down the Mississippi with Jim at night staring at the stars and listening to the night. I often wish for my own quiet leisure where there is time to think. I actually feel rested as the river images come to life for me.

I like this part the most. Huck says, “Sometimes we’d have the whole river all to ourselves for the longest time . . .It’s lovely to live on a raft. We had the sky, up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made, or only just happened—Jim he allowed they happened.”

“We used to watch the stars that fell, too, and see them streak down. Jim allowed they’d got spoiled and was hove out of the nest.”

This week I will watch stars and float around a bit and try to keep Mother Gothel at bay.